Korges: The Women’s March is over; It’s time to make a difference

Wilson Korges

The marches and protests that have sprung up all over the nation — including Des Moines — are simmering down. As everyday life again intrudes and stretches onward seemingly in spite of itself, one question remains for all sides — what’s next?

Regardless of your political stance, it’s important to remember that what you choose to do as a student matters.

University campuses have long served as hubs of political action, and the issues that students have championed often have shaped political discussion on a national level. What you do has an impact, a bigger one than you might expect. You don’t have to be in Washington, D.C., to make waves. You can start right here.

Interested? Then find other people who are equally passionate. After the past few days, spirits are understandably fiery, and it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. Talk to your friends and engage in discussion. Find an organization that speaks to you — the Iowa State University website lists more than 30 student-run political and activist organizations.

If nothing suits your fancy, start meetings of your own. Late-night talks about politics over coffee with peers can be and has been the starting point for great things.

Decide on a course of action and get started; together, if you can. Exactly what to do is up to you.

Contact your representatives about your goals and issues close to you. The organizers of the Women’s March have created an option on their website for people to create postcards for their senators about what matters most to them.

Make sure you are registered to vote and take part in every local election. Mark your schedules or use an app to remind you of upcoming election dates.

Plan an event — a small gathering of friends or a larger effort to engage your community. Write and read about your local and national governments and the policies and changes you would like to see enacted. Put in some volunteer hours somewhere you want to make a difference. Most importantly, make plans and make good on those plans.

Last, but not least, don’t switch yourself off. Feelings of anxiety, anger and helplessness are normal, and steps can be taken to combat them.

Vent in productive and constructive ways — write, make art and talk to those around you. These options are far more useful in advancing discussion and debate than you might realize. It’s common to feel isolated and as if there is nothing you can do. That’s why the first two steps outlined above are so important.

Preserve and use your personal momentum. Remember that you are responsible for the actions you take, and for taking action when you feel it is necessary.

In the wake of all the tension from the past week, it’s time to ask the important questions: Do I feel like something needs to be done? What could I do to help achieve this goal, and how will I do it? What do my fellow students believe needs to happen?

Together and unified, students can collectively make their mark on politics. Stand by and support one another. Enthusiastically embrace your ability to make change.